Changing seasons greetings dear readers! What a wonderous and amazing weekend it has been. I have, at last, fed a multitude! Saturday a good friend of mine and I catered a 100+ participant event called the Estalilla Kabaroan Escrima Subukan. A gathering of students and teachers of the Kabaroan Escrima style, to meet and greet each other as well as present demonstrations and have some friendly sparring matches.
First off, we had to come up with a menu. Thankfully desserts were already in the safe hands of the family matrons. So, we started off with the big 3, beef, chicken and pork. So we settled on bbq chicken legs and thighs, half dry rubbed and half marinated, pulled pork sandwiches and grilled tri-tip in wet and dry rubs as well. Then the plethora of sides with fresh made punset, a Filipino pork dish reminiscent of chow mein, grilled peppers and onions, grilled marinated zuccini and fresh made pasta salad, as well as some buckets of potato and macaroni salad and some bagged salad mix. I know, I know, but there had to be SOME effort saving dishes.
Whyzat? Well, because we started prepping at around 5pm the night before our 10am deadline! Whee! So it was an all hands on deck panic call to friends and associates to assist with the prep work of chopping and bagging veggies, defrosting and breaking down industrial hunks of meat and preparing whole storage bags of custom rubs and marinades. And seriously, we couldn't have done it without all of their help.
By around 11pm we were finally able to get cooking. Pork shoulder in a low oven, wok and hot water stations ready for the punset, scads of storage bags to hold marinating meats, pasta boiling pots, the whole shebang. And so did the coffee and beer begin to flow in earnest. It's a special thing when you discover that not only is your buddy a kickass friend, but he's also a pleasure to work with in the kitchen. And even with the motivating juices and smooth running efficiency, it took until 9am for the last dish to be bagged, tagged and ice chested for the trip to the park. Barely enough time for a quick cat shower and a frantic search for a sober driver.
Flying across town, cocooned in my happy fugue, we came upon our spot and got everything offloaded lickety toot. After a bit of a quest for the lifeblood of a bbq, frozen H2O, we got the mesquite fires going and banged the propane grill to life. And it's happily at this point I was able to happily (if nervously) shift the chef's hat to an actual trained chef with 30 years of experience under his belt. Of course, I had to linger and mince from foot to foot as I watched my hard work tried by fire. But my babies were in excellent hands and I was at last escorted off to go run video for the demos and sparring (which was some amazing stuff, I must say).
Service went well. And everyone seemed very happy with the dishes. The pulled pork was a little strong on the coriander for western tastes, but I'm told the folk from the Phillipines found it quite nice. The dry rubbed chicken was too salty, which was totally my fault. Using full salt Pappy's as a base for your rub is a bad idea, but we lacked the low salt version. Otherwise, everything else came out as close to perfect as I dared hope. The peppers, sausage and onions were insanely sweet, 6 whole tri-tips disappeared like they were never there, the pasta salad was crazy herby and moist without being wet. And dare I say, the true experts of Filipino punset, declared our puti punset to be allowable to be served to polite society. I was quite proud that we pulled off a very specialized and unfamiliar dish.
And I certainly learned a few things. First being, start shopping a week early and make damn sure you've got an entirely vacant kitchen to work in. Second, the rule that you get 3/4 of a pound of meat per person is a fallacy if you can't control portion size. Especially when you're feeding martial artists. Folks who work out are heavy meat eaters. Plan for a pound per at least. Third, don't even try to compete on the dessert tip with a Filipina, their coconut mojo is most strong. And lastly, it's hands down brilliant to secure a loving substitute chef to step in and cook so you can enjoy chasing gremlins in the grass for the rest of the afternoon.
All in all I was extremely happy with how everything turned out and was most gratified to see so many people happily eating our food. And the avalanche of compliments from friends new and old didn't really cause my ego much injury. And of course I have to happily share those with all of the great guys and gals who stepped up to help out and pull it off. It was an amazing day, with great people, having alot of fun together. I feel quite thankful to have had the opportunity and more than a little pride that we all pulled it off with something resembling style.
Next episode...maybe some recipes!